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Reports throws fresh doubt on viability of HS2
RUISLIP campaigners are celebrating another victory after a damning financial report heaped further doubt on to the future of High Speed Two.
A report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee released last week criticised the business model for the first high speed rail link (HS1), which connects London to the Channel Tunnel, saying it had so far left taxpayers 'saddled with £4.8bn of debt', and that figure would more than double.
The committee held an inquiry into HS1, which opened in 2003, and became concerned that the same mistakes made then are being repeated now.
The HS1 service is running up debts. after passenger demand was overestimated.
Ruislip Against HS2 campaigner Lottie Jones said the findings showed how weak the argument for HS2 was.
She said: "The government is being very stubborn in refusing to back down, but this is very embarrassing for them and we feel vindicated by the report, as we wrote to Margaret Hodge [committee chairman] last year with pretty much the same views as she has expressed."
Ms Hodge said: "HS1 will continue to cost the taxpayer money - £10.2 billion over the next 60 years - so before going ahead with HS2 we need a robust cost-benefit analysis.
"Some of the [Department for Transport's] assumptions about the benefits of faster travel are simply untenable."
A Department for Transport spokesman said it had learnt from the lessons of the past and pointed out HS1 had been delivered on budget and on time.
He added: "Our passenger forecast modelling has improved significantly since the original work for HS1 more than 20 years ago, with better understanding of what drives passenger demand, better computer modelling and more computer power to do it."
Network Rail predicts the West Coast Main Line will be full by the mid-2020s and HS2 presents the most effective solution to this looming capacity crunch facing our rail network.
"This is in addition to the jobs, regional regeneration and improved connectivity the project will deliver."
Members of Hillingdon Against HS2 (HAHS2) will go to Westminster on Monday next week to join a protest over the plans. Anyone who wishes to join in should meet at Ruislip station at 10am.
Police permission has been granted and HAHS2 is hoping as many people as possible will show their support against HS2.
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